Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tour of Northwest California

Fence Post Art

If you keep your eyes peeled for odd objects, you will find them. This funny guy in a shell was placed on a fence post next to a rock on Hwy 36. I get a kick out of finding stuff like this.

Red Ryder meets Fat Tire

"Ride, eat, sleep, explore" is the mantra of ACA (Adventure Cycling Assn.) for cycle touring and what an understatement. These four words aptly describes what one does on a daily basis on an extended tour. Life on two-wheels gets pretty simple and it's GREAT!

For 18 days, the foursome of Bob Anderson, Frank Gerace, Dennis Engblom and I explored the NW corner of California taking mostly little used back country roads to some of the most breathtaking country you will encounter.

We started and ended the tour in Sacramento and covered 683 miles and climbed 31,496' and crossed 10 county lines (Sacramento, Yolo, Colusa, Glenn, Tehema, Trinity, Humbolt, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa).

I did this big loop ride 5 years ago and essentially followed the same route with a deviation on the first 3 days due to inclement weather. We wanted motels and not campgrounds based on the extended forecast.

The tour route followed Old Hwy 99 W from Woodland to Red Bluff then turned west on Hwy 36 to Fortuna on Hwy 101. We proceeded south on Hwy 101 to Leggett, turning west on Hwy 1 to Mendocino. We then turned east on Comptche/Ukiah Rd which becomes Orr Springs Rd to Ukiah. We continued east on Hwy 20 and Scotts Valley Rd. to Lakeport, then southeast on Bottle Rock Rd./ Hwy 175 to Middleton.
The final leg was on Butts Canyon Rd./Pope Valley Rd. to Moskowitz Corner, finally turning east on Hwy 128 to Winters/Davis and returning to Sacramento over the Causeway.

Bon Voyage! See ya' in 18 days!

Meeting the Wheelmen on their breakfast ride on Front Street - Debra, Lesli, Eric and John and Sally.

Slow getting out of town. Tower Bridge lifting for a passing boat.

Steve and Mike accompanied us to Woodland where we said our good-byes. Mike and a group of five will be starting a cross-country bike trip in a couple days.

Good luck and safe travels to you Mike!

Passing flowering crop on Old Hwy 99 W (above and below)

The barren Dunnigan Hills at sunset is sublime

Riding on Old Hwy 99 is like riding through the Mid-west where Ag is King

A daily morning ritual - stopping off in Arbuckle for a caffeine jolt.

Sutter Buttes to the east

Passing under the Williams Gateway Arch

Old Hwy 99 is lined with many silos

YES! The flag pointing north, the direction we're riding!

With storms blowing in from the south, we had tailwinds for 3 days going to Red Bluff. There is an upside to rain.

We got our first drenching on the 3rd day - from Orland to Red Bluff

Slick roads leaving Orland

Dennis gets another flat, the second of six for the entire trip

We laid over in Red Bluff and checked out the town. Historic church (above) and courthouse (below).

Note to foodies: The Countryside Cafe, probably the best eatery in town, is located directly across the street from the courthouse. Famous for homemade pies!

The sun popped out for a short time for a local to check out the wildflowers

Frank the bumble bee

A great day - sun out and riding on beautiful Hwy 36

Hwy 36

Rolling hills, meandering roads and splendid views

Bob rolling along

Hwy 36 heading into the first range

Platina Grade, the first big climb on Hwy 36 - about 4 miles long at 4-9%

Two riders on Platina Grade

Click twice on pic to see Bob and Frank grinding up the grade

Frank chasing Bob

Frank closing in for the kill

Can't be that tough, Bob is smilin' . . . or is it a grimace?

A Wowser! A bouquet of wildflowers on a south-facing slope

I had to stop to smell the poseys

Our first night camping at Basin Gulch, a NFS campground.

A beautiful little creek flows through the campground

Laura flipping jacks

Bountiful breakfast at Wildwood Cafe

Paulina is a friendly and efficient waitress

Frank finds his hometown

First sighting of snow-capped Trinity Alps

A giant snow cone - Mt. Shasta

The lads posing in front of Trinity Alps at highpoint on Hwy 36

At viewpoint at South Fork Summit with view of Lassic Range behind us

It's all downhill from here

Arriving at Ruth Lake

We camped behind cafe/bar in very rustic setting

A well maintained cabin at Ruth Lake - felt like "Deliverance Country"

Oh feed me!

Love the expression!

Another flat on big descent to Van Duzen River

Van Duzen River

Nice campground at Grizzly Creek State Park next to Van Duzen River

Cresting last hill into Hydesville near Fortuna

Needless to say, Frank had to stop here

Beautiful river valley near Hwy 101, south of Fortuna

Cruising through the tall trees on The Avenue of the Giants

With threatening rains, we booked a small cabin in Redcrest

Frank drew the short straw and curled up in the corner

Another java jolt at Meyers Flat

I can relate!

The mighty Eel River follows Hwy 101 for many miles

Stopping off at the Benbow Inn for a break

The old highway below Hwy 101 bridge

Frank draws the short straw again and had to settle for the roll-away

Booking into the Redwood River Resort cabin

Dennis cooks up a mean spaghetti dinner

It was quite tasty!

From Leggett, Hwy 1 climbs 4 miles at 7% grade

At the summit!

I hear banjo music!

Another Deliverance Country scene

Hwy 1 is well marked for cyclists

A marine layer gives hint of approaching ocean

We hit the coast!

Hwy 1 near Lost Coast

Another major accomplishment, reaching the Pacific on Day 12

Riding south on Hwy 1 toward Westport

Neat scene in Westport

After a break in Westport, we continue south

Hwy 1 has many swooping descents and short climbs

More scenes along Hwy 1

A trick shot. Click twice on pic to view close-up of Bob in mirror.

A neat swooping bridge crossing Ten Mile Creek

Booking a bike/hike campsite ($5/each) at MacKerricher State Park

A Gray Whale big enough to swallow 3 people

Exploring MacKerricher Beach

Boardwalks to bluff overlooks to view sea lions and harbor seals

Pudding Creek Cove

The new Ten Mile Road Bike Path from MacKerricher SP to Ft. Bragg allows you to stay off Hwy 1

New bike/ped bridge crossing Pudding Creek to Ft. Bragg

The Little Stinker

The Skunk Train in Ft. Bragg

A great place for breakfast in Ft. Bragg

Headland scene north of Mendocino

A friendly birder allowed us to check out the birds nesting on the rocks

The Big Lebowski consuming apple desert at Mendocino Cafe

Bob has an appetite to behold!

Quaint scenes of Mendocino - an artist mecca

My buddy "Geno"

Cool bench sculpture at Little River Inn

Little River Cove at Van Damme State Park

Another great bike/hike campsite at Van Damme

Ya' think it rains alot here?!

Storage box with toupee

Little River Market/Deli has a view of ocean

Note to Foodies: The "best find" for reasonable eats on Mendocino Coast

The airport scene from Same Time Next Year, one of my favorite movies was filmed at this airport.

Wild Rhodo with a smile

Checking out the Pygmy Forest on Airport Rd.

Enough of the frivolities. Time for serious climbing on Orr Springs Rd. First of two double digit monster climbs.

What the heck?!

Looks like Tibetan yak cows in Mendocino County. Click twice on pic for close-up view.

An old lumber burner. Don't see too many of these anymore.

The tough climbing begins after leaving Orr Hot Springs Resort. Double digit grades (10-20%) for 6 miles.

Frank grinding his way up. Click twice on pic to see Frank sweating.

Monster climb but the scenery is superb

Hey Dennis, yur' only half way up! Sorry Man!!

More torture scenes of Frank (above and below)

Cows are loving it out here. It'll be a good year for cheese.

Near the summit

A bench at the summit

Smile Dennis, the hard climb is over

"It would be easier if I lost 30 lbs"

Big Bob's comment after every climb - a broken record.

Brake check time!

From the summit, a screaming 10% descent to Ukiah

Heading to Lakeport on Scotts Valley Rd.

Beautiful orchards around Lakeport

Best Campground Award

We staked out a lake front site at RV Park

Nice grass, lake view, great eatery 100' away - Doesn't get any better than this

Lounging around before walking over to TNT Cafe on the Lake for dinner

Fantastic Mexican eats at TNT

Fabulous fish tacos

From the deck, I watched night herons flying back and forth with nest material in their bills.
A flock of about two dozen herons were building nests in a nearby sycamore grove. Click on pic twice for close-up view.

Another bonus - flying saucer clouds at sunset

Stopping off for good ol' Joe in Kelseyville on our way to Middleton

Best Motel Award

Twin Pines Casino in Middleton

No curling up in the corner or roll away for Frank tonight. A big cushy bed is heaven!

The cafe was pretty good too.

Being chased by Jaws

On our last leg, heading east on Butts Canyon Rd. to Lake Solano Campground

New vineyards flourish in Pope Valley

The remodeled Pope Valley Store caters to cyclists

Great weather! Great views! Touring at it's best!

The last grinder - the backside of Cardiac Hill

Big Bob and Frank grinding to the top

The Glory Hole

Still alot of freeboard in Montecello Dam before water flows into the Glory Hole

Baby peacocks at Lake Solano Campground

Bob Tribe drives over and meets us at Putah Creek Cafe in Winters for our last breakfast.
He picks up the tab for the group. You the Man BT!

Only 30 miles to go to Sactown

State Capitol or Bust!

Mission Accomplished! Back home after 18 days and nearly 700 miles.
End of a awesome tour.


dAwN said...

Wow..great tour..scenery was awesome..campsites so nice..hee hee..those cabins with mossy roofs..
I saw the smile in the Rhodo before i read what your wrote..very cool.
Looks like another amazing tour..
So..are you resting now?

yvonne said...

wow! awesome trip and photos! I want to do something like that someday! How did you fit all your stuff on your bike?

yvonne said...

awesome pictures and trip! Always wanted to do something like that!

Rich Pacifico said...

Just. Came across your pictures! Wow! What an amazing trip